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Theories of Communication: – Argyle and Tuckman

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Argyle and Tuckman are two well known theorists who have put forward theories about interpersonal communication.

Tuckman believes there are five main stages of communication within group development, as they come together and start to operate.

Stage 1:
Stage 1 is known as forming. The behaviour of each individual is driven by a desire to be accepted by the other group members. Conflict and controversial topics are avoided and team members focus on tasks at hand. Individuals are also gathering information and impressions about eachother. Although this is a comfortable stage to be in, the avoidance of conflict means not a lot of work gets done.

Stage 2:
The next stage is known as “storming”. In this stage important issues start to be addressed. Some peoples patience will break early and minor confrontations arise that are quickly dealt with or glasses over. Depending on the culture of the organisation and individuals the conflict will be more or less supressed but nevertheless it will still be there.

Stage 3:
As stage 2 evolves, the “rules of engagement” for the group become established and the scope of the groups’ tasks, or responsibilities are clear and agreed. After the arguments, they now have a better understanding of eachother and are able to appreciate each others skills and experience. They listen, appreciate, and support each other. However, individuals have to work hard to keep this stage.

Stage 4:
Stage 4 is known as performing. Not all groups reach this stage as its characterised by a state of interpendence and flexibility. Everyone is equally task-orientated, and this high degree of comfort means that all the energy of the group can be directed towards the task in hand.

Stage 5:
Tuckman only added this final stage after 10 year. He named it the “adjourning” stage. This stage is about completion and disengagement, both from the tasks and the group members. Individuals will be proud of having achieved much and glad to have been part of a grou[. This stage is also known as “Deforming and Mourning.”

A few years later, Michael Argyle (1972) put forward the theory that interpersonal communication is a skill that had to be learned. Depending on the conditions, or situations, Behavioural patterns adapt accordingly. He argues that communication is a constant cycle.

The stages involved in this cycle are as follows:
•Ideas Occur
•Message is coded
•Message is received
•Message decoded
•Idea understood

For this cycle to work effectively, two or more parties must be present. There are six stages to the communication cycle:
1.Expressing your own thoughts
2.Watching the other person non verbal response and body language.
3.Interpreting the other person’s body language and trying to work out what they are thinking.
4.Listening to their response
5.Trying to make sense of their response
6.Original speaker expresses new ideas to clarify our ideas.

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